It was a night of both expectations met and surprises delivered at Sunday’s 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, as “Slumdog Millionaire” and Heath Ledger triumphed once again, while Sean Penn shocked with a win in the lead actor category over presumed favorite Mickey Rourke.
With just 5 motion picture categories, no one film dominated the evening. What the show did do was help to clarify the clear favorites and the stiffest competitions heading into the Academy Awards on Feb. 22.
“Slumdog Millionaire” continued to collect accolades last night, winning Outstanding Performance by a Cast. Coming weeks after ruling at the Golden Globes, this latest victory solidified its status as a heavy favorite to take the Oscar for Best Picture.
The late Heath Ledger, too, has secured Oscar front-runner status after nabbing SAG’s outstanding supporting actor prize for his role as the Joker in “The Dark Knight”. Accepting on his behalf, “Knight” co-star Gary Oldman choked back tears as he sung Ledger’s praises.
In the night’s biggest surprise, Sean Penn (“Milk”) knocked out Globe winner and comeback kid Mickey Rourke (“The Wrestler”) in the lead actor category. Penn’s win for his inspired portrayal of gay activist Harvey Milk wiped away any certainty about who will prevail in that category come Oscar night.
The first movie award of the evening — outstanding supporting actress — went to a luminous, blue-frocked Kate Winslet for her turn as a former Nazi prison guard in “The Reader”.
Meryl Streep took home the lead actress statue. She practically floated up to the stage after winning for “Doubt”, laying a big smooch on Ralph Fiennes and confessing she didn’t expect to win so she didn’t buy a dress. “Even though awards mean nothing to me anymore,” she deadpanned, “I’m really happy”.
Other winners included:
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
HUGH LAURIE – “HOUSE”
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
SALLY FIELD – “BROTHERS & SISTERS”
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
ALEC BALDWIN – “30 ROCK”
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
TINA FEY – “30 ROCK”
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series